Why green IT is good for business

As these companies have discovered, when IT projects focus on operational efficiency, sustainability benefits usually follow.

1 2 3 4 Page 4
Page 4 of 4

Fuel cells can be very efficient for data centers because the waste heat they generate can be used to cool the facility when fed into special absorption chillers. But from a purely economic standpoint, you still need fiscal incentives, such as tax breaks, to make them a viable business proposition, says Gartner's Mingay.

Beyond the Data Center

KPMG's IT team has taken the lead in driving green IT initiatives that go well beyond the data center. For example, IT pitched a 500 kW solar array to the real estate group for its Montvale, N.J., campus after sustainable IT leader Darren McGann heard a colleague at Microsoft discussing a solar project it had completed. The IT group also raised average operating temperatures to 79 degrees in its data centers after seeing a demonstration where Microsoft moved part of a data center into an outdoor tent to demonstrate the robustness of IT equipment. McGann claims that KPMG's data center was the first to generate power using gas micro turbine generators, and it reuses the waste heat in combination with absorption chillers to help cool the data center.

Gas-powered microturbines are more economical than fuel cells, but you still can't make the business case on energy savings alone, says Mingay. In most locations, you still need tax breaks, capital allowances or the policy tool known as "feed-in tariffs" to make them economically viable, although it can be more attractive in locations where natural gas is inexpensive.

IT is uniquely positioned to help make the business case for, and drive, other green initiatives that go beyond the data center, PCs and office automation equipment. At KPMG, for example, it was IT business process analysis and automation expertise that helped propel an initiative to create a paperless audit system.

IT also collaborated with the in-house travel group to encourage videoconferencing in lieu of travel. To do that, it created a JavaScript program within the travel services portal that determines when users request travel between locations where videoconferencing services are available and offers to redirect users to a videoconferencing reservations page before they complete their flight arrangements. "That increased videoconferencing by 85% in just three months," which increased productivity by reducing travel downtime, saved energy and reduced the company's carbon footprint by 60% in one fell swoop, McGann says. "What I'm most proud of is that the IT organization has been a constant contributor by engaging with nontraditional partners within the organization," he adds.

Many companies have adopted virtualization-by-default policies, and IT needs to extend that to "design green by default," says McGann. It's easier to make the business case when starting fresh, because retrofits are more expensive. But it's also important to have a clear understanding of what sort of commitment management is making toward energy and carbon reduction and align projects to meet those strategic goals.

"Many projects will align with an energy reduction goal or a leadership commitment the CEO has made," he says. "And once you connect the dots you can get leadership to go forward."

Copyright © 2013 IDG Communications, Inc.

1 2 3 4 Page 4
Page 4 of 4
7 inconvenient truths about the hybrid work trend
Shop Tech Products at Amazon